What does the Fourth of July mean? Does the answer depend on who you are? And what you believe? How long will we be “allowed” to celebrate the Fourth of July?
In a society that increasingly judges the actions of the past by the standards of the present, how long can we celebrate the accomplishments of imperfect men who did their remarkable deeds almost two and a half centuries ago?
The writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence can be viewed as an exercise in imperfection, or worse, hypocrisy: grand pronouncements about equality in a land where slaves were held and would be for almost another century; followed, we should take time to note, by the Democratic Party’s own policy of Jim Crow, which was outlawed finally by the votes of Republicans in Congress.
Thomas Jefferson, the prized author of the Declaration was himself a slaveholder, as was George Washington, the Father of our country. All the signers were white European men of privilege. Eight of the 56 signers were born in Britain, a fact that reminds us where our laws and customs came from.
Remembering that our forbears, like those eight, came from somewhere else, too many people (certainly too many politicians who should know better) say we are a nation of immigrants. Not so. About half the U.S. population is descended from settlers: people who carved a nation out of a wilderness and built a civilization. The immigrants came later.
And for decades those immigrants adopted the traditions they found in their new country. But that has changed: immigrants now come in such numbers they are able to preserve their old culture in their new land, aided by the liberal-progressive elite who seeks to destroy the traditional American culture.
Which raises the question, Will the country (and its customs) last? Could America fall apart? Have we, like Europe, lost faith in our beliefs, traditions, and legitimacy?
How do you tell if you’re entering a dark age (religion is disparaged, rampant sexual perversions meet approval, babies are killed by the millions) is related to the issue of how you tell when your country starts ceasing to be your country.
Which leads to the next question, What is it that makes a country a country? Probably at least such aspects as a common language, a common or at least dominant religion, a common culture, common traditions, and geographical boundaries.
Suppose the Nazis had captured France and required German to be taught in schools and used in all government activities and radio and television broadcasts, and — you knew this was coming — required all cooking to be German (while humming Wagner), what would France have been like, say, 75 years later, i.e., today? (We have just finished celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of D-Day.)
French territory would have become part of Germany (as Alsace-Lorraine did in 1871), the language would have become German, the culture would have become Wagnerian, and after 75 years, many historic French traditions would probably have just disappeared.
You don’t think so? How many of the French would have remained really French if following German rules had been required for economic success or survival?
The answer is, probably the same number of big American law firms that resist the cultural demands of their corporate clients, which, these days, won’t allow a whiff of disapproval of modern cultural depravity from partners.
Is the United Sates similar to our imaginary (Deo gratias) France? No. Or certainly not yet.
But our traditional religion, Christianity, is under assault. Our mores have not just declined; they have been driven down by progressive-liberals. Our language, English, the pride of the civilized world, is still dominant but no longer exclusive (about 27 percent of people in the country speak Spanish). Our culture is under assault, especially by the media, and by our universities, which are meant to be guardians and transmitters of culture — traditional culture.
About all that is unchallenged is our geographical integrity, but then the geographical integrity of our imaginary France was also still intact. And what is the meaning of geographical integrity other than keeping out people you don’t want in?
And is our geographical integrity truly unchallenged? The invasions by 22 million illegal Spanish-speaking immigrants is a threat not to be taken lightly, as it is by 99 percent of our media and other supposed “guardians” of our culture. (Some 63 percent of non-citizen households access welfare programs compared to 35 percent of native households.)
So, again, the question: When does the America that came into being on July 4, 1776, cease being that America?
Given all that’s happened, what are we to celebrate this Fourth of July? In his book, “Who Are We?” Samuel P. Huntington provides one answer: “Would America be the America it is today if in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it had been settled not by British Protestants but by French, Spanish, or Portuguese Catholics? The answer is no. It would not be America; it would be Quebec, Mexico, or Brazil.”
There’s one thing to celebrate: We’re not Quebeckers, Mexicans, or Brazilians.
What is our nationality? American, if we can keep it.
Have a blast.
Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was executive editor and subsequently chairman of the board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.